The holidays are here and many of us are planning our menus, collecting recipes, and creating shopping lists for the Thanksgiving feast. In our family, this traditional meal includes favorite dishes as well as a few new ones. There are high expectations though, so if a dish misses the mark—well, let’s face it. People don’t forget.
One treasured recipe is a sage and sausage dressing, cooked inside the bird and spooned out right before the meal is served. Despite the efforts of some to expand our culinary experience—making it with cornbread and apples, or cranberries and walnuts—the consensus is always the same: don’t mess with the dressing. Yet even the beloved stuffing missed the mark one year.
That afternoon, our celebration began as usual with singing the Doxology and sharing personal expressions of gratitude. After my father prayed, we took our places at the table and began passing platters of food. My mother was a wonderful cook and compliments were bountiful until someone took a bite of the dressing and commented on the unique, crunchy texture. My mother gasped in horror and ordered us to spoon our dressing back into the serving bowl.
Without explanation, she whisked the bowl from the table.
It wasn’t until the meal was over that she told us what had happened. She went to retrieve the dressing from the garage, where it had been kept cool. Exhausted from being on her feet all day, she tripped and dropped the bowl upside down on the dirty garage floor. Sickened by the thought of a dinner without dressing, she attempted to rescue it, scooping the top of the pile back in the bowl. Little did she know that the entire batch had been contaminated with garage floor debris. She was clearly mortified by the incident but we thought it was hysterical. In fact, it has become one of those infamous family stories resurrected each time we gather to celebrate Thanksgiving.
As much as we seek to create the perfect Norman Rockwell image for our family holidays, sometimes it is the imperfections that unite us. Despite the stuffing fiasco that year, it was one of our most memorable dinners.
I now know that it is not the food that makes the holiday, but the time spent together with those we love, and even the unfortunate mishaps can become cherished memories. During the holidays this year, don’t let the insignificant things distract you from the joy that comes from being with loved ones and giving thanks to God in all circumstances.
You are the giver of all good things. During this season of gratitude, help me to recognize the gifts you give me each day by deepening the relationships of those around me. Instead of focusing on my expectations, help me to recognize the blessings in the unexpected. Instead of being absorbed in my own concerns, open my eyes to the needs around me, help me rejoice in all circumstances, and give you thanks.
Discussion or Journal Prompt:
What holiday mishaps have robbed you of your joy? How can you give thanks in all circumstances this holiday season?